What's frivolous is the defense

October 18, 2013 

Tales told by a well-funded front group for wealthy special interests recently made headlines in your newspaper again ("Group's tour to highlight 'abusive' lawsuits against Illinois small businesses.") Unfortunately, the article presented a distorted and one-sided perspective.

Travis Akin, the face of front group I-LAW, conveniently avoided the fact that more than 70 percent of lawsuits are filed by his financial supporters -- businesses suing businesses for money. Injury cases make up just 6 percent of all lawsuits.

I-LAW's backers do not want to get sued for their wrongdoing. They are the same people who delay compensating injured people by routinely filing frivolous defenses. They defend the indefensible for years to wear suffering individuals down financially and force them to take less than fair compensation for their injuries.

I-LAW regurgitates false claims that lawsuits discourage business growth and drive unemployment in Illinois. Tellingly, lawsuits rank 71st out of 75 issues small businesses find important, according to a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business. Taxes, energy prices, and the cost of labor are far more important factors for a company deciding where to locate.

Wrongdoers use the catchy phrase "lawsuit abuse" to try to scare citizens. Our justice system screens out the very few suits without merit. What we really must address are the frivolous defenses Akin's wealthy, powerful backers put forth to try to force injured, financially-strapped people into accepting less than reasonable compensation.

Stephen D. Phillips

President, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association

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